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Adopted by God

Daily Reflection / Produced by The High Calling
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[In love] he predestined us for adoption to sonship through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will.

Ephesians 1:5

In last Friday's reflection, we considered what it means that God has predestined us. Today, I want to add a little more to this conversation.

According to Ephesians 1:5, God has predestined us "for adoption to sonship through Jesus Christ." Here, Paul uses language that would be familiar from his secular culture. Adoption was familiar in the Roman world as a means for men who lacked natural sons to have a male heir. Moreover, from his Jewish perspective, Paul understood that Israel had been adopted as God's son (see Rom 9:4). Now, Christians receive this privilege through Jesus Christ. The unique Son of God makes it possible for us to become part of God's family as his sons and daughters.

The NIV translation of Ephesians 1:5 chooses not to translate a phrase in the original Greek. This omission is common among contemporary versions, probably because translators are trying to smooth out the English. Yet, I believe the rhetorical effort misses something of theological power. A more literal rendering of Ephesians 1:5 might read, "He predestined us for adoption to sonship through Jesus Christ to himself." This added phrase accentuates the relational dynamic of our adoption. God the Father adopted us through Christ to that we might belong to him as his children. He did this, not only for our benefit, but also for himself, because he desires to love us and be in relationship with us.

Thus, this verse reveals that God has predestined us, not only for salvation in some general or impersonal sense, but for an intimate relationship with himself. God wants more than to deliver us from eternal death. He has decided to take us into his family so that we might know him and his love, and so that we might share his love with our brothers and sisters in Christ.

QUESTIONS FOR FURTHER REFLECTION: Do you think of yourself as adopted by God? Why or why not? How does the word "adoption" impress you?

PRAYER: Gracious God, how wonderful that you chose to adopt me as your beloved child. I must admit that I can only begin to grasp the significance of this. How amazing that you desire relationship with me. With me!

Heavenly Father, help me to live today as your child, to know that I am loved, to know that I belong to you forever. Amen.

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